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Timeline of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program

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UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

  • Early 1990s: With impetus from Pittsburgh Steelers team neurosurgeon Joe Maroon, M.D., who had direction from Steelers coach Chuck Noll to obtain “objective data” concerning his concussed quarterback, Dr. Mark Lovell develops a paper-and-pencil neurocognitive protocol. Baseline results are collected for the entire team, so it is initially called “the Steelers battery.”
  • 1994: After a career-ending concussion to Chicago Bears running back Merril Hoge, Dr. Lovell accepts NFL officials’ request to develop league-wide neuropsychological-testing program through the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.
  • 1997: UPMC orthopaedic surgeon and Pittsburgh Penguins head team physician Charles Burke, M.D., approaches Dr. Lovell about developing a league-wide program for the NHL; Dr. Lovell directs the program for the next decade.
  • 1998:  Michael Collins, Ph.D., joins Dr. Lovell at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where Dr. Collins completes first Fellowship in Sports Neuropsychology.
  • 2000: UPMC Orthopaedic Surgery Department Chairman Freddie Fu, M.D., recruits Dr. Lovell to establish and direct the first free-standing concussion program in the U.S. at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. Dr. Lovell recruits Dr. Collins to join him as the program’s assistant director.
  • Sept. 6, 2000: Dr. Maroon leads crowded news conference to introduce the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. “What we really want to do is make Pittsburgh ground zero,” Dr. Collins tells media in attendance. “Pittsburgh could really lead the way.”
  • 2000: ImPACT® neurocognitive test battery – after use in the NFL and NHL – branches out to NCAA, WPIAL and others
  • 2002: Dr. Lovell and UPMC experts at forefront of Vienna international conference on concussions
  • 2004: Pencil and paper neurocognitive test battery gives way to early ImPACT computerized testing
  • 2005: Dr. Lovell and UPMC experts at forefront of Prague international conference on concussions;  Patient base at  UPMC Center for Sports Medicine’s athletic training-contracted schools --  seven colleges and 41 high schools in 2000 --  fosters growth for the concussion program
  • 2000-2006: Research produced dozens of groundbreaking concussion studies, such as: age as it relates recovery; bell-ringers; amnesia being more important than loss of consciousness as a sign; rate of exertion in recovery;  the effects of migraines and learning disabilities on recovery; and more. Because of such work, UPMC experts received a $3 million National Institute of Health grant to correlate fMRI and ImPACT findings and a $5 million Center for Disease Control grant to develop a Pediatric test.
  • 2006:  Having reached a concussion-assessment level of care and finding patients with lingering symptoms and concerns, Dr. Collins begins to move toward assembling treatment and rehabilitation teams – specialists to assist them across the vestibular, exertion and medication spectrum
  • 2007: Due to exponential clinic growth, satellite Concussion Program clinics open in Oakland, Monroeville and Bethel Park
  • 2010: Patient population reaches 10,000 annually; Dr. Anthony Kontos joins the team to coordinate research effort that continues, in part, studying prognostic outcomes
  • 2011: Dr. Lovell retires from UPMC; Dr. Collins named program director
  • 2012: Concussion Program moves into new wing constructed solely for treatment and injury research; an estimated 13,000 patients to be treated annually in the program with experts in:
    • Vestibular Evaluation and Therapy
    • Neurootology Evaluation
    • State-of-the-Art Neuroimaging
    • Physical and Exertional Training and Rehabilitation
    • Medication Management
    • Behavioral Neuro-Optometry and Vision Therapy
    • Neurosurgical and Orthopaedic Evaluation
    • Research and Continuing Evidence-Based Studies